Majority of Liverpool fans want to remain at Anfield says Ian Ayre

 

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre is confident the club have made the right decision in choosing to redevelop Anfield ahead of building a new stadium.

While a new ground in Stanley Park would provide the required 60,000-seat capacity as well as increased hospitality opportunities and state-of-the-art facilities, its cost - estimated at over £300million - is prohibitive.

With news that Liverpool City Council have secured funding to regenerate the Anfield area, the football club now plan to proceed with plans to expand and improve their home for the last 120 years.

It was always the preferred option of principal owner John Henry, whose Fenway Sports Group did a similar thing with their baseball team Boston Red Sox's Fenway Park.

"I was the person who showed John around Anfield the first time they ever came to Liverpool," Ayre said.

"We were in the tunnel area at Anfield and I remember him saying to me, 'Why would we want to build a new stadium? This is like Fenway. This is the home of Liverpool Football Club'.

"We also had a duty and process we had to go through which was to study every opportunity, every solution. The right solution is one that is sustainable and is in the long-term interests of Liverpool Football Club.

"It's great that it is hopefully Anfield because I think that's what the majority of our fans want. There are still some steps to take, but we're confident they're the right ones.

"As you would expect from a financial point of responsibility, we've considered the variety of different solutions we could have, what they cost, whether they're economically viable and we're comforted with the fact we can deliver something on the site concerned."

Those steps include securing the necessary planning permissions to radically alter the Main Stand and Anfield Road end, at an estimated cost of £150million, as well as the land surrounding the ground - where some streets still have occupied houses.

"It's not as if we haven't considered what we can build on that site, what we can do to expand and there are various different solutions to that," Ayre added on liverpoolfc.com.

"But it would be wrong and extremely presumptuous of us to assume that somebody's home can be acquired until the proper process is gone through.

"But until we get further down the track it's not responsible for anyone to suggest 'We'll build this, it'll look like that, we'll knock that person's house down...'.

"Everyone wants to know the end solution right now but we don't know that - just as we didn't two years ago know whether we were staying or moving.

"We'll go through it in the timescale we need to go through to deliver it properly with respect for everybody that's involved."

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard gave his full support to the plans to stay put.

"I'm really pleased. I've had some special occasions at Anfield and so have the club," the England midfielder said. "If they are going to spend all that money on Anfield and improve it then fantastic.

"It has been on everyone's lips for a number of years now, would we move away from Anfield or reinvent Anfield?

"A lot of history and important things have happened at Anfield and I think it is fantastic Liverpool are staying there."

PA

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